AAJA San Diego’s Member of the Month for March.
Paola Rodelas may be the definition of well-rounded.
Born in the Philippines, Rodelas and her family moved to San Diego when she was two-years-old. Then, Rodelas attended UCSD, where she double-majored in Art History and Ethnic Studies.
Rodelas is currently the Account Coordinator atÂ Focuscom Inc., a local public affairs and public relations agency. She first got her start at Focuscom as an intern in February 2011 and a month later was offered the position.
Rodelasâ€™ passion for her Filipino heritage has led her to participate in many things involving the Filipino community. With her diverse background, Rodelas was crowned Miss Philippines San Diego 2009-10 and has worked with organizations such as the Philippine American Community of San Diego, Inc., GABNET/AF3IRM and BIBAK. Rodelas has also written for BakitWhy.com and Hyphen Magazine.
Aside from her other commitments Rodelas is actively involved with AAJA. She was awarded the AAJA Ford Foundation Chapter Fellowship last year, which allowed her to attend the AAJA National Convention in Detroit for free. It was in Detroit where she says she was able to attend workshops to â€œfine-tuneâ€ her journalism skills, as well as meet Nick Ut, a photojournalist known for his Vietnam War photo, â€œNapalm Girl.â€ Rodelas is currently the Co-Chair for AAJAâ€™s Fundraising Committee, as well as on the Marketing Committee for Rolling Readers.
When Rodelas isnâ€™t working or volunteering for organizations, she enjoys crocheting and knitting, and playing Perfect Dark, with her roommates. She is currently deciding if she should participate in outrigger canoeing this year.
We asked Rodelas a few questions about her public relations and AAJA experiences via email.
How did you get started in journalism/public relations?
I started writing articles for an online Filipina/o American community site called BakitWhy.com in 2008. I’ve also done some freelance work, including writing an article for Hyphen Magazine in 2010. As for public relations, I first got interested in it after speaking to Nikki Jimenez (our AAJA-SD Vice President), who I met at the San Diego Asian Film Festival, about her work in public relations for Focuscom and SDAFF. I had already been doing similar work with BakitWhy and other community groups I was involved in, so I decided to give public relations a shot and fell in love with it.
What do you enjoy most about it?
I love how dynamic this industry is and that it’s not the same thing every day. I worked in accounting for three years while I was still at UCSD. It was something I was good at, but it was so monotonous. I also really enjoy doing community outreach and working with the many non-profit organizations we’re involved in. It makes me so happy helping these organizations get their voice out and reach their target audiences.
Tell us about your current role and responsibilities at Focuscom Inc.
I assist with various public relations duties, including writing press releases, communications plans, competitor analysis reports, email pitches, and media kits. I also oversee the administrative, financial, and human resources responsibilities of our office. I wear many hats here!
What experiences in public relations have been most valuable to you and why?
Honestly, I have learned more about San Diego in my past year of working here than I have during my entire five years at UCSD. I was an ethnic studies major at UCSD, and many of our professors really emphasized getting involved in the community and the political process. Yet we never discussed who our local elected officials and community leaders are, what types of legislation are being proposed, etc. Public relations isn’t all about politics, but it’s very helpful to keep up-to-date on current events.
What do you think are some of the benefits of being in AAJA?
AAJA events have been a great place to network. In fact, I’ve attended many networking events, but I get the most out of AAJA’s. Our San Diego chapter is especially made up of a group of awesome,Â friendly people who are not only my colleagues but my friends.
Looking ahead 5 years, where do you see yourself?
I definitely still see myself working in communications. I want to be more involved in the community and would love the opportunity to work full-time for a non-profit organization someday.
Do you have any advice for those just starting in journalism/public relations?
Join AAJA! Network with other journalism and public relations professionals, and find a mentor.